Stay ahead of cyber security threats with the Essential Eight

With cyber threats looming on all fronts, navigating the complex world of cybersecurity can be daunting for business owners.

However, the stakes are high, and mistakes can lead to severe consequences. Cybersecurity models and frameworks come to the rescue, offering a structured approach and aligning efforts with best practices.

Among these, the Essential Eight – developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) – stands as a formidable roadmap, providing clarity and defence against potential threats.

What is the Essential Eight?

The Essential Eight is a series of risk mitigation strategies designed to protect Microsoft Windows-based networks. This, in turn, empowers organisations to stay protected against a variety of nasty cyber threats.

Included in the mitigation strategies are:

  1. Application control
  2. Patch applications
  3. Configure Microsoft Office macro settings
  4. User application hardening
  5. Restrict administrative privileges
  6. Patch operating systems
  7. Multi-factor authentication
  8. Regular backups

Together, these serve as a robust defence against cyber threats and form an important shield to safeguard critical assets, enhance incident response capabilities, and fortify your business against evolving cybersecurity challenges.

What is the Essential Eight Maturity Model?

The Essential Eight mitigation strategies are supported by the Essential Eight Maturity Model, which offers a comprehensive framework to assess and enhance your business’s cybersecurity posture.

You can use this model to determine the maturity of each mitigation strategy’s implementation, and:

  • identify areas for improvement
  • prioritise certain cybersecurity efforts
  • ensure a proactive approach to mitigating risks and maintaining cyber resilience

Not all businesses will require the same maturity level. For example, smaller organisations with limited resources may find that achieving a lower maturity level provides adequate protection against cyber threats. Larger enterprises that deal with highly sensitive data may strive for a higher maturity level. The key is to assess individual needs and risks to determine the appropriate level of maturity for your business.

The Essential Eight maturity levels include:

Level 0 – represents weaknesses in your business’s cyber security posture.

Level 1 – protects against simple vulnerabilities such as lack of software patching and malicious links in emails.

Level 2 – safeguards against technical and social engineering vulnerabilities, such as phishing where the goal is to steal or destroy all data (including backups).

Level 3 – protects against targeted attacks where malicious actors will spend time and money leveraging unorthodox methods to penetrate your network.


Working with IT experts to implement the Essential Eight

Compliance with the Essential Eight is not only a requirement for certain businesses governed by industry regulations, but is also a crucial factor for obtaining cyber security insurance. Ensuring Essential Eight compliance provides tangible evidence of a robust cyber defence system, giving businesses added protection and peace of mind.

In addition, businesses with an annual turnover exceeding $3M must adhere to the Privacy Act, making Essential Eight compliance fundamental to avoid hefty penalties for data breaches. Even if your business falls below the turnover threshold or does not require formal compliance, the Essential Eight’s mitigation strategies serve as a highly effective foundation for establishing strong cyber security measures.

At Empreus IT, we have extensive experience supporting business owners to understand and implement the Essential Eight.

We can work with you to:

  • assess your current state and maturity
  • identify an appropriate target maturity level
  • take steps to achieve your target across all Essential Eight mitigation strategies

As part of this process, we can also develop effective policies and procedures to enhance your cyber security posture – from password sharing to 2-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and more.

It’s a long-standing joke that, even in the largest organisations, someone somewhere has their password on a sticky note taped to their desk. Don’t let this be you! We can assist with remediating issues like these with staff training, enforcement action (such as password changes and access removal), and bolstering your physical and digital cyber security so you can rest assured that your business stays a step ahead of cyber threats at all times.

Do you want more expert advise on protecting yourself and your data?

Make sure you read all of our articles under the “IT Security 101” series:

  1. Anti-virus and Web Protection
  2. Physical Security
  3. Virtual Private Networks
  4. Firewall

To learn more about implementing the Essential Eight in your business, call us on (02) 6189 1322 or contact us.